Spring Vegetable Stew

April 14, 2015

spring vegetable vignole

Spring is well underway and boy have I missed it.

The winter felt so long and drawn out I was almost on my hands and knees begging for a little warmth and sunshine; I needed to feel human again. As you know spring is the season of the new, the fresh and the vibrant. Also, and more importantly, what’s on offer for the adventurous foodie is abundant. I have just started to see the first crop of Jersey royals, spring lamb is everywhere (don’t buy New Zealand, British lamb is just as good, if not better), and the tender stems of asparagus have also begun to show themselves.

Calling this a vegetable stew may be a little misleading; a stew signifies long slow cooking which is not required for this dish.  But if you wanted to get technical, you could call it a ‘vignole’ which is the Roman name for this type of cooking.

I created this recipe entirely on impulse. I was scouring the Market one afternoon and was simply inspired by what was around. I put the recipe together in my head as I went and thankfully it turned out brilliantly. That’s the most important thing about being a cook; if you fail to get inspired by looking at ingredients then it’s time to hang up the apron in my opinion.

This recipe is made almost exclusively out of green vegetables and is packed with vitamins, which can boost energy levels and eliminate toxins in the body, just what everyone needs as we put the cold days of winter behind us. You can either enjoy this recipe on its own, or you could serve as a side dish with some fat juicy hake fillets (or any other white fish), simply fried in olive oil and lemon juice.

Serves 2 as a side, 1 as a main

100g fresh broad beans (podded)
100g Asparagus (trimmed)
100g Purple sprouting broccoli
1 large shallot or 2 small, finely diced
2 garlic cloves minced
About 2 dessert spoons of walnut or rapeseed oil
Around 200ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock if desired)
About 2-3 dessert spoons freshly chopped parsley
7-9 mint leaves finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Small knob of butter


First prepare your veg, remove the woody ends of the asparagus, this is done by taking one in your hands and bending it near the trimmed end. It will naturally snap at the point you want it to then discard the woody end. Cut off the tips then dice the remaining parts of the stalk. Prepare the broad beans by removing from the pods; you need to end up with about 100g of beans and 100g of asparagus. The broccoli just needs trimming to remove any tough stringy ends if there are any.

Place a pan of lightly salted water on and bring to a boil, place the broad beans and asparagus in to the water and simmer for about two minutes just to blanch, you don’t want them fully cooked.

Remove from the pan and place in to cold water, keep the boiling water on the go, you will need it later for the broccoli. De-shell the broad beans by popping the green insides out from the greyish shell. It’s easy to do, simply pinch off one end of the skin and squeeze out the bright green bean discarding the outer skin.

In a large frying pan and add the walnut or olive oil, bring up to a medium heat and gently fry the diced shallot for a few minutes until soft but not browned. Whilst that is cooking place the broccoli in to the boiling water and blanch for a couple of minutes. After blanching drain and add to the frying pan along with the garlic, a knob of butter, drain the other vegetables and add those too.

Lastly, add the chicken stock and cook on medium to high for about five minutes until the liquid has reduced by half and the vegetables are just cooked and tender. Stir in the chopped mint and parsley and season to taste.

Serve in a warmed deep bowl and you’re ready to eat a nice healthy meal.

If you are looking to make it that bit more decadent, add grated parmesan cheese and a dash of olive oil on top.